#DailyDevotion Are You Greater Than John?
Matt. 117When they were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see – a reed shaken by the wind? 8What, then, did you go out to see — a man dressed in soft robes? Those who wear soft robes you’ll find in the palaces of kings. 9“What, then, did you go out for — to see a prophet? I tell you, he’s even more than a prophet. 10This is the one of whom it is written: ‘I will send My messenger ahead of You to prepare Your way before You.’ 11I tell you the truth, there never has appeared a woman’s son greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.
So after John’s disciples leave to report back to John what Jesus had said, Jesus turns to the crowds now following him. Jesus kind of builds up to who John is by pointing out what he is not and probably not what the crowds were going out to John to see. They were going out to see a prophet. There hadn’t been a prophet for quite some time. John, however, is more than a prophet. John is the fulfillment of prophecy himself.
And what prophecy would that be? We have three. Isaiah 403“A voice cries in the wilderness:
“Prepare a way for the LORD: make a straight highway in the desert for our God.” Again, Malachi 3:1 “I am going to send My messenger to prepare a way for Me. And the Lord Whom you’re looking for will suddenly come to His temple, yes, the Angel of the covenant Whom you delight in — He will come,…” And again, Malachi 4:5“I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the LORD’s great and terrible day comes.” John is the last and greatest of the prophets for he saw the anointed one, the Messiah, and baptized him. He is the one who prepared the Jews for the coming of the LORD made flesh, Son of God and son of David, the Angel of the Covenant incarnate. Jesus is that LORD, the Angel of the Covenant whom Isaiah and Malachi saw and prophesied about and John is that voice that prepared his way.
Yet, for however great John is and was, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Now just who is least in the kingdom of heaven? Matt. 18:5 Jesus says, “If you become humble like this little child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” In this case, the one who has nothing to offer, the one who can’t take care of himself, who relies upon others and in particular the Lord Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Then again in Matt. 23:11 “11The greatest among you will be one who serves you.” Those who serve others, who humble themselves to help others are the greatest.
Yet, St. Paul says of Jesus, Phil. 26 “Although He was God, He did not consider His being equal with God as a prize to be displayed, 7but He emptied Himself, made Himself a slave, became like other human beings, 8…. He became obedient and humbled Himself until He died, yes, died on a cross.” By all accounts Jesus in his flesh utterly depended upon the mercy of the Father to take care of all his needs and to deliver him from death. He humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross to serve and to save all humanity. Jesus is therefore the one who is the least in the kingdom as he is the servant of the kingdom and is greater than John. It is this Jesus who has served you by saving you who now calls upon you not only to trust him for your salvation but to trust him to follow his lead by humbling yourself before God and serving your neighbor.
Heavenly Father, you sent your son Jesus Christ into the flesh to become the servant of all therefore exalting him to your right hand. Grant us such faith in him that we may follow in his path of humility and serve one another. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.